KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lenyn Sosa expected a fastball.
But when Kansas City Royals starter Jonathan Heasley threw a curveball at him on a 1-1 pitch in the third inning Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium, Sosa reacted quickly.
The result: a 428-foot home run, the first of his major league career.
The Chicago White Sox recalled the infielder from Triple-A Charlotte on Sunday, and he had two hits during his first action since returning in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. helping the Sox to a 3-2 victory.
“From the moment they told me I was coming here, I really focused on doing everything in my power to help this team,” Sosa said through an interpreter after the game. “(Tuesday) was one of those days. That’s what I plan to do: try to help this team as much as I can.”
The Sox will need the contributions as they try to navigate the next few weeks without shortstop Tim Anderson. the twice All-Star went on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday with a sagittal band tear on the middle finger of the left hand. He will have surgery on Thursday and is expected to miss about six weeks.
Sosa played second base Tuesday and started shortstop Wednesday against the Royals, going 0-for-4 in an 8-3 loss to the Red Sox. He also has experience in the minors at third base.
“Among those three positions, my favorite is shortstop,” Sosa said. “I’m going to give my best in whatever position I’m asked to play.”
Sosa’s homer on Tuesday went to left-center, his fifth-inning single went to center and he lined out to right in the seventh. Sox manager Tony La Russa said the game served as an example of what made Sosa so successful in the minors.
“The reports we were getting when he was playing in the minor leagues, that’s how he was hitting .300, using all the fields,” La Russa said. “Very impressive. Anybody who hits a home run and injects energy into our club, because we’re looking for runs, the fact that he gets called up in a tight spot and produces, that’s more impressive.
“Anyone who does something like him is going to help our club. I can’t give you enough credit. But that’s exactly how all the guys who have been watching him described it.”
Sosa combined to hit .316/.367/.512 (110-348) with 16 doubles, two triples, 16 home runs, 58 RBIs and 57 runs in 85 games this season with Double-A Birmingham and Charlotte. He appeared in four games with the Sox from June 23-27, going 1-for-12 with a double and two runs.
“For my first experience (in the majors) I learned that you have to be patient here and I learned to execute,” Sosa said. “You can’t allow mistakes to happen. “You have to be ready to take advantage of every mistake. You can’t let those pitches in the middle just land there. You have to do some damage.”
After playing second in each of his appearances during his first stint with the Sox, Sosa made his first major league start at shortstop Wednesday. Leury Garcia, who is slashing .211/.237/.274 in 79 games, started short in both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader. La Russa mentioned that Garcia has been dealing with back and hip pain.
“We’re going to watch it closely,” La Russa said before Wednesday’s game. “I was receiving treatment (on Wednesday). I’m thinking he can play (Thursday) afternoon, but if he’s sore I won’t play with him. But that means maybe (third baseman Yoán) Moncada has to play four (games).
“So you do things (with the lineup) in pencil and you just have to look. But the point is well understood because we’re in this long series of games and you have to figure out where a guy like Leury is going to have a (off) day.”
As of 2020, the Sox are 145-106 when Anderson is in the starting lineup and 39-42 when he’s not. And he has often set the tone at the top of the order.
Outfielder AJ Pollock started for the Sox while Anderson served a two-game suspension and remained there for Game 2 of the doubleheader. On Tuesday he fouled his foot and got a respite on Wednesday. La Russa inserted second baseman Josh Harrison in the leadoff spot on Wednesday.
Pollock is hitting .381/.418/.556 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 14 games as a leadoff hitter this season.
“Pollock has been good (and) when he’s not there, Josh has experience and that’s one of the things,” La Russa said in discussing leadoff options. “(You) look at what other guys can bring. As much potential as (Luis) Robert and (Eloy) Jimenez (in spots 2 and 3) have, you really want someone who is a threat. Because (the other team) will see Robert on deck and say, ‘Wow, be careful,’ and it will work in their favor.”
Sosa started in one of his five starts, on June 25 against the Baltimore Orioles. He has been at No. 9 the rest of the time.
“He’s not a deer in the headlights,” La Russa said. “He’s had enough success this year, so it’s a good time to try. And the better he does, the more he plays. Here is an opportunity.”